Gluten is a protein composite found in food that is processed from things like wheat, grains, rye, etc., and it has been the topic of a general food craze. Over the last few years, grocery stores have stocked their shelves with more and more gluten free (GF) choices, including everything from cereals to breads to pastas and much more. Back in the day when I was growing up (I promise it was not that long ago) I was never aware of this ingredient, nor did I personally have any sensitivity to any food that I ate – that I knew of. However, when I recently started working out more and became more aware of my personal health, I could feel that certain foods made me feel tired, gave me headaches and even caused me to feel “out of sorts.”
Even more so than me, I noticed that from a very young age my daughter had a sensitive stomach. When I was nursing her and ate certain foods, they would not sit well with her. Even into her toddler years and as she got older, there were specific foods that gave her stomachaches, headaches, coughs and as she got older I noticed that she was getting ill more frequently. Like any concerned parent, I took her to the doctor and we luckily found nothing majorly wrong. Still the symptoms continued, and I wondered what to do.
I spoke with many friends and did some of my own research on the Internet and learned that some children (and adults) suffer from a gluten allergy that is called Celiac Disease. This issue affects one in 133 people and causes the body to have a reaction to gluten. You can get a blood test to get a proper diagnosis. A child can also be gluten sensitive, but not suffer from this disease fully. Because blood tests can be a bit invasive and even traumatic (especially for a 6 year old) I opted for a non-invasive testing option (muscle testing) to seeing if there was a gluten sensitivity present in my daughter.
Dealing With a Gluten Sensitivity
If you have a child at home or have experienced the symptoms listed in this article after eating certain foods, I suggest you get some type of testing. Knowing what is harming your body and being able to change your diet and feel better is really priceless. Here are also some tips on what you can switch out on your diet or buy at the store to help deal with a gluten sensitivity:
1. Eliminate Breads
One of the first things I did to reduce gluten from my home was to stop buying any type of bread including white, wheat or rye breads. Instead I buy Ezekiel Bread – cinnamon raison for breakfast and another kind for sandwiches.
Vegetables and fruits are 100% gluten free and are delicious. The good thing is that you can use them for any meal or snacks. Most frozen fruit and vegetables are also safe.
3. Make Lean Meats
Meats are just as ‘gluten safe’ as vegetables and you can easily cook things like steak, chicken and even make things like eggs and bacon.
4. Look For & Buy the Gluten Free Brands
Milk products, cheeses and even other foods like cereals, yogurts and cake mixes are sold in gluten free varieties. Look for these choices at your regular grocery store. You would be surprised at how many types of gluten free brands are now sold in stores. Keep in mind, however, that just because a product is “gluten free” does not mean it is “healthy for you.” If you buy a gluten free pancake mix, this does not mean you should make GF pancakes for breakfast lunch and dinner. These products are merely healthier alternatives which won’t produce symptoms of a GF sensitivity.
5. Watch Your Restaurants
Unfortunately a majority of restaurants serve food with gluten, especially those serving fast food. In our house we try to cook and eat at home as much as possible (which saves money too), but if we do go out I look for organic or healthy restaurants. We are even lucky enough to have a really good buffet at our natural grocery store that offers both a hot and cold bar with a variety of gluten free choices.
We have found that in our own home, just making some simple modifications to what we eat can make us feel 100% better, have more energy and get sick less often. Obviously there are special occasions where we have that occasional slice of pizza or an ice cream cone, but we have been able to successfully cut most of the gluten out of our diets and are seeing positive results from it.